With its pristine beaches, clear turquoise water and bustling nightlife, Boracay is the Philippines’ undisputed leading tourist hotspot. Boracay is a relatively small island (~10km²), and is nested in the middle of the Philippines’ archipelago, an hour’s flight from Manila.
As a testament to its natural beauty and entertaining night scene, Boracay has a long list of accolades over the years. Including:
- Voted into TripAdvisor’s “2017 Travelers’ Choice: Top 25 Beaches” list. Boracay is ranked 24th in the World category, while 2nd in the Asia category.
- Voted into Leisure + Travel magazine’s “The World’s Top 10 Islands” for 2017, Boracay ranked 3rd.
Want to know what are the things to do in Boracay? Here, we’ll share with you the TOP things that you MUST do in Boracay! Go ahead and share this post with your travel buddies!
See also: How to get to Boracay
Layout of Boracay and White Beach
Boracay is a small and elongated island (~7km length). The center of the island is narrower (~700m width) and resembles a thin neck joining the northern and southern ends.
White Beach, the main beach of Boracay, is located along the southern coast of this neck. Most of the tourism related establishments on Boracay (e.g. food, retail, services and accommodation) are concentrated along here.
White Beach itself is split into three different zones (i.e. Station 1, 2 and 3). Station 1 being the northern end, Station 2 occupies the center, while Station 3 is the southern end of White Beach. In all, White Beach is approximately 4km and can be easily explored on foot.
Unsurprisingly, with such a high density of amenities within short walking distance, most visitors choose to stay around here. Consequently, White Beach can often be overwhelmed with visitors, especially during peak seasons. Expect to see throngs of Asian tourist, with Chinese and Koreans especially in higher numbers.
Things to do in Boracay
Below is the list of things to do in Boracay, listed in random order.
Things to do in Boracay, #1: White Beach
White Beach is the star attraction of Boracay. It is famous for its powder-like white sand, crystal-clear water and a long and wide shoreline. Such is White Beach’s perfection; it is consistently a top contender for the world’s best beaches.
During the day, White Beach is filled with beachgoers enjoying the sand and sea. Expect to see scores of tourist flooding it. Interestingly, many appear to be more interested in taking the mandatory selfie as compared to enjoying the beach.
White Beach is also the main launching point for most of the sea activities in Boracay. Activities include island hopping cruise, sunset cruise, parasailing, jet skiing, helmet diving, paddle boarding, scuba diving etc. (See below for typical pricing)
During the evenings, White Beach transforms into a bustling party scene. After a tiring day of sun and water sports, most visitors would spend their evenings here. The entire beachfront is lined with restaurants, bars, cafes, massage salons, retails stalls, travel agents etc. Hotels and bars routinely put up street performances or live bands to attract the throng of tourist strolling along the sandy waterfront pathway. And relatively cheap drinks further help to fuel parties deep into the night.
- Willy’s Rock is a tiny volcanic outcrop just a few metres off White Beach at the northern end of Station 1. It is famous for housing a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Visitors could walk onto the outcrop. A great photo spot.
- For the best and most famous fruitshake in town, visit Jonah’s Fruitshake at Station 1. It is located along the beach (sea facing) and in front of Willy’s Rock. (See picture for pricing)
Typical costs for activities on Boracay (as of 2017)
- Island Hopping Cruise (see #2): 800-1000PHP/pax
- Sunset Cruise (see #3): 300-500PHP/pax
- Zipline (+ cable car return)(see #4): One ride at 1000PHP/pax (transport provided)
- ATV buggy (2-seater, on-road, 1hr): 2750PHP (twin shared)(transport provided)
- Go-Kart (on-road): 1800PHP/pax for 15laps (transport provided)
- Helmet diving: 1500PHP/pax. Include DVD (video + pictures). Bottom time 20-25 minutes.
- Massage (full-body or foot): 500PHP/hour (in salon, air-conditioned), 350PHP/hour (by the beach)
Things to do in Boracay, #2: Island Hopping Cruise
Other than White Beach, there are plenty of other scenic beaches and interesting activities located on/near Boracay. And the best way to explore all these is via an island hopping cruise. Such is the popularity; going on an island hopping cruise is almost a ritual for all visitors to Boracay.
There is simply no reason why you shouldn’t get booked on one.
A typical island hopping cruise
Most of the island hopping cruises available on Boracay are similar. The cruise typically takes 4-5 hours and departs from White Beach daily between 9am-10am. It includes a snorkeling session, visit to Puka Beach, cliff jumping at Magic Island, BBQ seafood lunch and a visit to Crystal Cove Island (see details below).
Booking a cruise
To book, simply approach a few of the many travel agents roaming White Beach to make a price comparison. Price is usually between 800-1000PHP/pax, with the difference mainly due to the type of boat used. The lower prices are for larger boats; slow and crowded. While the higher prices are for speedboats; fast and less crowd.
During our Sept-2017 trip, we got booked on a speedboat (accommodates ~12-15pax) for 1000PHP/pax.
Advantages of a speedboat island hopping cruise
Since most of the island hopping cruise departs around the same time and follow the same itinerary, being on a speedboat ensures that you’ll usually reach the location earlier than others.
For example, at our second stop on Puka Beach, we were the first few visitors to arrive. The beach was largely empty then. Naturally, this offer great opportunities for some photo shoots before the crowds from the big boats arrive.
In addition, its a no-brainer that the faster the boat, the less time you spend on the journey and more time at the destination enjoying.
Details of Cruise activities
Following are details of the cruise activities. The sequence is according to the cruise we had during our trip.
Time allocated by cruise: 30 minutes
Equipment: Snorkelling equipment is provided and included in the cruise price
The two water sports that’s a must-do in Boracay are cliff jumping and snorkelling. No trip to Boracay is complete without these two activities.
For snorkelling, Boracay has a number of excellent snorkelling sites a short distance off the island. The most famous being Crocodile island.
This snorkelling site is located in the shallow waters between Crocodile Island and Boracay’s Tamisaan Beach (southern end of Boracay). In fact, it is so close to the shoreline of Tamisaan Beach that a seasoned swimmer could reach it from there. (Not that we recommend though, due to the large number of boats in the area)
The Crocodile island snorkelling site has plenty of shallow coral reefs, mostly between 1-2 metres below the surface. There are a good number of colorful corals and plenty of fishes in the area.
The good about the shallow reefs at Crocodile Island is that it is easier for visitors to observe and take videos/photos. In fact, we hugely enjoyed snorkelling there with the beautiful corals and interesting reef fishes (including scores of adorable clown fish) in close proximity.
However, the shallow nature of the reefs also present dangers to the reefs themselves. It meant that the reefs and fishes are extremely vulnerable to disturbances from both snorkelers and boatmen.
Caution: Please exercise great care and NEVER touch (not to mention step on) corals. Any contact with human skin can contaminate and slowly kill entire colonies.
Alternative snorkelling site
Sadly, when we were booking our island hopping cruise, we didn’t ask our travel agent the specific location of the snorkelling (we assumed there’s only one). Consequently for our cruise, the snorkelling was done at a “marine park” somewhere off the northwestern end of Boracay.
We didn’t get the name of this marine park. But the water was deeper which meant that we couldn’t get close enough to observe any coral. We still, however, manage to see a good number of fishes when the boatman threw bread into the water.
Word of advice
Remember to check with your travel agent the location of the snorkelling. Do not repeat our mistake. We ended up having to book a separate private boat to bring us to Crocodile Island for snorkelling.
#B: Puka Shell Beach
Time allocated by cruise: 40 minutes
Puka Shell Beach (or Puka Beach in short) is easily one of the most scenic beaches we’ve seen in Boracay. As with its more famous cousin (White Beach), Puka Beach has a good length of unspoiled shoreline, with wide beachfront and sparkling clear water. Which explains why most island hopping cruises make Puka Beach one of their mainstays.
Comparing Puka Beach and White Beach, Puka Beach trumps in that it is way less crowded and commercialized. Specifically, Puka Beach has almost none of the myriad of sea activities on offer at White Beach.
However, the current at Puka Beach tends to be stronger and the seabed drops off a short distance off the shoreline. Thus, it is more suitable for experienced swimmers and not as safe as the wide shallow waters off White Beach.
Puka Beach is located on the northern end of Boracay. The beach was previously called Yapak Beach. But it gradually came to be known as Puka Shell Beach due to the amount of Puka Shells found here.
The beach lies in a general east-west orientation, and stretches for approximately 800 metres. The main land entrance to the beach is at the eastern end. From our observation, the western end appears to be more scenic and less crowded. Which is probably why most cruise boats disembark their passengers here.
Tip: Bring your own drinks/snacks and mat. The food and beach chair prices here are steep.
#C: Magic Island Cliff Jumping
Time allocated by cruise: 30 minutes
Entrance fee: 150PHP, unlimited jumps
Jumping board heights: 3/7/9/10 metres
Other than snorkelling, cliff jumping is another must-do water sports in Boracay. And most island hopping cruise will include a visit to the cliff jumping area on Magic Island.
Magic Island is a tiny island next to Crystal Cove, and a short distance from Crocodile Island. It has a series of low cliffs along its eastern coast, which are converted into cliff jumping facilities.
Entry fees (150PHP/pax) are collected as you enter the facilities. This payment is not included in your cruise fees and must be paid separately at the entrance. Thus, remember to bring some cash during your cruise.
The cliff jumping facility on Magic Island is small. There are around 4 cliff jumping boards available, rated at 3/7/9/10 metres. Visitors are allowed to have an unlimited go at the boards. Other than the jumping boards, there are toilet facilities and a couple of hut and benches for resting.
There is another more famous cliff jumping facility near Boracay (we’ll not mention the name). However, it is way more expensive and appears overrated. Skip it and head straight to the no-frills Magic Island instead.
Cliff jumping can be dangerous if not done properly. Below are some advice from our limited experience.
Cliff jumping safety tips
#1: Look first! Ensure nobody is in the area below your board.
#2: Feet first! Jump feet first. Don’t dive and be fancy! You’re on holiday, not on a super-hero mission to save the world. Don’t try to be hero.
#3: Keep it small! Keep your arms tight and legs together to reduce impact. Pitch your nose and keep your mouth shut.
#1: Go for the lower boards first to gain confidence.
#2: Your first few jumps will always be nervous. The key is to just walk up to the end of the board and promptly step off it. Stop staring at the height and hesitating on the board. You might not realize it, but the wait and hesitation actually makes you more nervous and causes you to delay more. It’s a vicious cycle.
#3: Just get on with it and be the first few amongst your group to jump. Fears from other friends (in your group) do spread quickly. Thus, be amongst the first to jump to get over it. Once it’s over, you’ll realize that the scariest part is not the jump, but the hesitation and fear mongering prior to the jump.
Dare to say no
Finally, you do not have to try if you don’t want to. You could simply wait on the cruise boat while other passengers have a go. Do not be pressured into doing something that you’re not comfortable with. Especially so if you’re a non-swimmer.
Lunch is usually included in the cruise fees and most cruise operators provide a simple BBQ seafood lunch.
#E: Crystal Cove Island
Time allocated by cruise: 1 hour
Entrance fee: 200PHP (Crystal Cove Island website)
Crystal Cove is a small private island (2.5 hectare) located at the southeastern tip of Boracay. It is close to both Magic Island and Crocodile Island. The island has its own (albeit small) white beach, two coves, sea caves, short trails and a number of good viewing decks.
The island hopping cruises usually disembark their passengers on Crystal Cove’s white beach. From there, passengers have to purchase their own entry fees (200PHP/pax) as they get off the beach and enter the facilities.
Crystal Cove is a tiny island and one could leisurely walk from end to end in 10 minutes. The main attraction are the two coves (Cove 1/Cove 2), and the viewing decks which offers unblocked views of the area.
Visitors typically shouldn’t need anything more than 1-2 hours to fully explore the island and snorkel at the coves.
Cove 1 is the more popular of the two. It is located on the island’s northern end (see map). The coastline here is formed by a short stretch of low cliffs. There are a number of viewing decks/towers along the clifftop which offers great views of the island and the surrounding sea.
Interestingly, there is a narrow spiral stairway in the ground (on the clifftop) which leads to a sheltered sea cave underneath. The sea cave opens out to the cove and the surrounding shallow waters. When the weather is calm, the waters here are very suitable for snorkelling and swimming.
However, do not expect to see the same quantity and quality of marine life as you would in Crocodile Island. This is more of a place to splash around and have fun with your friends.
Cove 2 consist of two sea caves linked by a narrow tunnel. Depending on tide, visitors might have to waddle in waist high water to get into the first cave via a raised platform.
At the back of the first cave, there is a small natural tunnel which leads into the rocks and connects to a sea cave at the other end. The tunnel is reasonably wide for 1-2 person, but require some crawling at parts due to its height. Having said, the length of the tunnel is short and most people shouldn’t have any issues with it.
At the other end of the tunnel, it opens up into another small sea cave. Visitors could do some snorkelling here. However, there’s nothing remarkable to see.
Visit Cove 2 for the tunnel experience, if you have time. Else give it a pass, its nothing to die for.
Tips for booking island hopping cruise
#1: No need to book online. Simply arrive at White Beach and check with one of the many travel agents dotting the beach. Do a price comparison. Verify with the travel agent the itinerary and details of the cruise (e.g. snorkelling location, type of boat etc.).
#2: No need to book too early. Just make the booking a day prior.
#3: If the weather on the day of cruise is bad (e.g. storm, thunder), most operators will postpone the cruise to the next day. However, the cruise will usually proceed if there is only slight rain.
Things to do in Boracay, #3: Sunset Cruise (Paraw Sailing)
Cruise duration: ~25-30 minutes
Cost: 1000PHP for 3pax (i.e. 333PHP per pax)
Location: Off White Beach
Definitely one of the must-do activities in Boracay! Period!
As White Beach is situated on the western side of Boracay, the beach (and the waters off it) offers majestic views of the sunset. And what better way to enjoy the sunset than from a paraw sailboat cutting thru the waves!
The distinctive white/blue coloured paraw sailboats are small traditional Filipino sailing vessels with a pair of sails and outriggers. They are usually made of bamboo and wood, and are solely powered by the wind. Other than the captain, there are no other sitting spaces on the narrow main hull.
To accommodate passengers, nettings are tied across the two parallel beams that secure the pair of outriggers to the hull. The netting (one of each side of the hull) allows the paraw sailboats to accommodate up to 10 passengers per boat.
During the evenings, there are hordes of paraw sailboats waiting along White Beach (in front of Station 2 & 3). Many agents/boat captains will be hawking their cruise along the beachfront. Simply approach a few of them to check the price. During our Sep-2017 trip, we paid 1000PHP total for 3pax. The cruise duration was between 25-30 minutes, which we felt were just right.
The sunset cruise proved much more fun than we had expected. Never mind the sunset. The entertaining ride on the sailboats were more than worth the money. Our bums were essentially “floating” less than a metre above the waves. The feeling of wind in your hair with water splashing against your feet is nothing less than exhilarating.
Tips for Sunset Cruise:
#1: Get your timing right.
Check the sunset time beforehand. Arrive on White Beach approximately 25 minutes prior to the actual sunset time. Briefly check the cruise price with a few of the many agents/boat captains plying the beach. Engage one of the cruises and immediately hop on-board! You should be just in time to catch the sunset while cruising.
#2: You will get splashed. Prepare for it.
Passengers will be sitting on the netted outriggers during the cruise. You’ll inevitably get splashed by the waves. Thus, prepare for it and gear up/dress appropriately. Store any important/loose items in a waterproof bag and get the captain to stow it safe. If you plan to use a camera, ensure its waterproof (or at least splash proof) and tethered to your wrist!
#3: Your footwear will get wet.
Passengers will be boarding the sailboats from the beach via a wooden plank. Thus, your footwear will almost certainly get wet. The most convenient way is to wear flip-flops. Pass your flip-flops to the captain before boarding. Then board the sailboat bare-footed. You wouldn’t need any footwear while cruising.
Things to do in Boracay, #4: Happy Planet Zipline + Cable Car
Cost: 1000PHP per pax (zipline + cable car)
Location: Mount Luho (transport provided)
For those looking for more exciting adventures in Boracay, the Happy Planet Zipline (+ Cable Car) is another interesting activity not to be missed.
Located on the northern end of Boracay (at Mount Luho), Happy Planet Zipline is the only zipline in Boracay. The zipline is approximately 500m long and descend approximately 70m over its course.
We booked the zipline ride via a travel agent and was quoted 1000PHP per pax (including transport fro/to our hotel). Apparently, it isn’t necessary to book too early in advance. For us, we made the booking in the morning and managed to secure a trip for the same afternoon.
At the agreed time, the travel agent came to pick us up at the hotel and led us to a waiting transport. The journey to Happy Planet Zipline (from Station 3) was about 20-25 minutes, including a traffic jam near Station 1.
At the zipline
The zipline facility is rather basic, consisting of a 3-level tower (for the zipline) and an adjacent platform (for the returning cable car). In fact, there is only a small signpost showing the name “Happy Planet Zipline + Cable Car”.
Once at the zipline tower, we were promptly ushered to register our particulars. After which, we requested for 1-2 minutes to take some photos before suiting up. The staffs appeared anxious to get us to suit up quickly, probably so that a queue would not develop.
After suit up, we were told to lie face down into a webbing harness. The Happy Planet Zipline uses the “superman” style of harness whereby riders fly head-first down the zipline. This surely adds more fun to the ride! There are also 2 lines on the platform, as such, two riders (e.g. friends) could launch simultaneously. This is unique as many other ziplines are single lined.
After checking our harnesses, the staffs briefly pulled back our body before launching my buddy and I down the zipline.
Once we started gliding down the zipline, there really wasn’t any element of fear. The speed wasn’t too fast either. We just felt like birds gliding gracefully thru the sky. The zipline height is more than 200m and the view of the surrounding was definitely awesome.
After gliding 40-50 seconds, we reached the end of the zipline, which is on a ridge opposite Mount Luho. It seems that the speed of your ride is dependent on your weight. The heavier you are, the faster your speed. This isn’t rocket science, is it?
At the end of the zipline, riders have to climb up a short flight of stairs to the cable car station. From there, the riders are sent back to the starting point on Mount Luho via the cable cars. The cable cars are nothing more than a hanging open metal frame with a bench.
Though slow, the return cable car ride allows riders to truly take in the splendid views of the landscape. Particularly, the coastal views on the left of the cable car line is nothing but mesmerizing.
Getting Around Boracay
As mentioned above, White Beach is approximately 4km long. Thus, one could easily walk from point to point.
However, if you really need a transport, you could get one at the main road behind White Beach. The main form of “public transport” here are the hordes of blue colored motorized tricycles plying the main road. Simply flag down one by the roadside and hop onboard (its a shared service). These tricycles typically do a continuous loop between Station 1 and 3. Once you reach your destination, inform the driver to stop and get off. Expect to pay around 15-20PHP per pax per trip. If you need to travel beyond Station 1/2/3, negotiate a price with the driver.
There are also private mini-taxis for hire. Expect to pay between 70-80PHP per trip for travel between Station 1 and 3.
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